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Republican Tommy Thompson ends run for U.S. president

Republican Presidential Candidate Tommy Thompson greets supporters during the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, August 11, 2007. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saying he had no regrets, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson on Sunday dropped out of the crowded race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination after a poor showing in a straw poll in Iowa.

Thompson, 65, finished sixth in Saturday’s nonbinding mock election. He had said he needed to finish in the top two to continue his campaign.

“I have no regrets about running. I felt my record as governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services gave me the experience I needed to serve as president, but I respect the decision of the voters,” Thompson said in a statement.

“I am leaving the campaign trail today.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Iowa straw poll, a traditional early gauge of support in the state that holds the first contest to nominate the contenders for the November 2008 presidential election.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee finished second.

Other leading Republican candidates -- former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson -- skipped the Iowa poll.